Coffee has long been seen as a habit to be broken in the path to good health. However, do the millions of coffee drinkers really need to go without? Is it really detrimental to our health? It seems that not only does it not pose any harm but it can actually provide benefits to our health!
‘Systematic reviews of the research – the most powerful method to weigh up scientific evidence – judge the current evidence as mostly in favour of drinking coffee. Coffee drinking is linked to a decreased risk of premature death, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancer.
However, some people will need to be cautious of the amount. Heavy coffee intake has been linked to an increased risk of lung cancer and can exacerbate heart problems .’
What are some of the benefits coffee provides? The studies have shown that coffee drinkers can actually live longer! Even amongst those who drink decaffeinated coffee.
‘Coffee drinkers live longer. A review of 20 studies including more than 970,000 people found those who usually drank the most coffee had a 14% lower risk of dying prematurely from any cause, compared with those who drank the least. Even drinking just one to two cups a day conferred an 8% lower risk. Decaffeinated coffee drinkers who had two to four cups a day still had a 14% lower relative risk of premature death than those who didn’t drink coffee at all .’
Coffee also appears to significantly decrease the risk of liver and prostate cancer partly due to the presence of kahweol and cafestol. These compounds assist in protecting against cancer.
‘Coffee drinkers, particularly men, have a lower risk of liver cancer. This is important as liver disease is the sixth-most-common cancer in the world and is more common in men.
Results from six studies, based on the total number of cups of coffee drunk per day, found the relative risk of liver cancer was 14% lower for every extra cup .’
As previously mentioned, coffee can also reduce a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The risk appears to decrease more with the increase in coffee intake.
‘Coffee drinkers have a lower risk of type 2 diabetes. Across 28 studies of more than one million adults, those who drank three or more cups of coffee a day had a 21% lower relative risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to those who never or rarely drank it. For those drinking six or more cups a day, the risk was lowered by 33%.’
‘The active components of coffee help reduce oxidative stress, the imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants. Coffee contains chlorogenic acid, which has been shown to improve glucose metabolism and insulin sensitivity, and caffeic acid, which increases the rate muscles use up blood glucose, as well as having immune-stimulating and anti-inflammatory properties .’
However, coffee intake should be lessened when pregnant. There is also the possibility that it increases the risk of lung cancer and can increase blood pressure in some individuals or those who don’t drink it regularly. It is also important that your coffee isn’t full of full cream milk, sugar, cream and other high sugar/ fat additives.